Oliewenhuis Art Museum holds in trust a historical and contemporary art collection of South African art on behalf of the people of South Africa with the aim to enrich the people’s knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our cultural heritage, to reflect its full diversity, to provide a cultural and educational resource, to encourage involvement in the visual arts and nurture a culturally diverse but shared national identity.

Main Building of Oliewenhuis Art Museum.


The Oliewenhuis Art Museum is housed in a Neo-Dutch style mansion, completed in 1941, which served as residence for the Governor General of the Union of South Africa. The building was converted in 1985 into an Art Museum as a satellite of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture.


Committed to building a representative collection of South African visual art, the Art Museum has shown a steady and interesting growth in its collection as South Africa has produced a number of celebrated artists whose works have become highly regarded both locally and abroad. The Permanent Collection currently comprises 1516 works of art in total and the Museum continues expanding its collection of works by South African artists.


Various temporary exhibitions are hosted in the Art Museum galleries, including the unique underground Reservoir gallery.

Walter Oltmann, Flowers, 2004-2005, Aluminium wire and tubing, 130 x 120 x 143 cm forms part of the Sculpture Park.




Liz Ranger, The Three Divas, 2004-2005, Brick, cement, ceramic, mosaic, glazes and oxides, 216 x 125 x 267 cm forms part of the Sculpture Park.




Wilma Cruise, Sheep may safely graze, the return of the Bloemfontein sheep (2004 – 2005), ceramic forms part of the Sculpture Park.




Family Chairs – Designer and Project Leader: Leepo “Spoon” Masukela (assisted by Loki Maselwane, Lele Sentso, Nelly Swarts and Prudence Maloka) forms part of the The Cement and Mosaic Project




Exhibition view of ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID: A mile in her shoes and other stories that was on show from 05 August until 11 September 2022.



Current exhibitions on show:


VIRAL IMAGES, a solo exhibition by Johandi du Plessis

The emerging South African conceptual artist and researcher, Johandi du Plessis presents an exhibition, VIRAL IMAGES that beckons questions about the nature and characteristics of images. The “housecat” figure–most popular pet (on the internet) that cannot be fully tamed–is the metaphor for images’ paradoxical and ambiguous qualities. Images can ‘go viral’; leap and get out of control suddenly, gaining a sense of agency. Similarly, unpredictable yet playful leaps that Du Plessis takes between mediums, materials, and concepts result in diverse artworks that range from installation to GIFs, cellphone and pinhole photography.


Never-ending secrets and untold stories: The embodiment of women in war

An exhibition curated from the collections of Oliewenhuis Art Museum, The War Museum of the Boer Republics and ArtbankSA


This exhibition was curated in collaboration with the War Museum of the Boer Republics to compliment an International Hybrid Conference, hosted at the museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and online from 24 – 25 November 2022 titled, The Unsung Heroines and Youth of South Africa, Violent Histories and Experiences of South African Women and Children during Wars, Conflicts and Pandemics. Importantly it also responds to and coincides with the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children from 25 November to 10 December 2022.


Themes of the trauma, suffering, strength and survival of women during the South African War are explored, and the exhibition also engages with the current war women are facing due to extent of Gender Based Violence.


The Sculpture Park

At the end of 2003, Oliewenhuis Art Museum received funding from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund to launch and to co-ordinate a Sculpture Park Project. Sculptors residing and working in South Africa were invited to submit proposals for consideration for the execution and erection of sculptures to be permanently installed in the Museum gardens.  The Sculpture Park, comprising twelve sculptures, was officially opened on 7 May 2005.


The African Carousel

The African Carousel is a public sculpture commission comprising 16 original artworks. It is a safe and fully functioning carousel where myth, fantasy and music, derived from many of the cultural traditions of the people of Southern Africa, come together. The focus of the African Carousel is to introduce children to the concept of art in an unintimidating, fun way and in so doing, to build an audience for the future.


The Cement and Mosaic Project

The Cement and Mosaic Project, comprising five functional sculptures created by 14 unemployed Mangaung residents, is an attraction for both young and old.


The Reservoir

In the back garden an underground water reservoir, dating from the early 1900s, has been converted into a distinctive exhibition space after a chance discovery. During the planning phase of the African Carousel in 1994, a site plan of the back garden was requested from the Department of Public Works. An underground construction north of the main building was indicated on the plan; the only access to the area was via a manhole. On further investigation a large underground reservoir was discovered containing approximately half a metre of water.

The transformation of the underground reservoir in the Museum Garden into an exhibition space began in 1996 and the project was completed in November 2002. The Reservoir is used for temporary art exhibitions.


Walking Trails

Situated on 12 hectares of natural vegetation on Grant’s Hill, Oliewenhuis Art Museum offers access to marked walking trails through the unspoilt natural surrounding areas.


Zet Labyrinth

This labyrinth was gifted to the Oliewenhuis Art Museum by Zarine Roodt and dedicated on 7 September 2018. The Zet Labyrinth is a 7-circuit medieval design based on the labyrinth laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220 CE. Walking the labyrinth is a form of meditation as its design facilitates calm and contemplation.


Fossilised Trees

Fossilised Glossopteris trees are abundant in the Senekal District of the Free State. The 9-metre long, well-preserved fossil was recovered and donated to the National Museum and is now displayed in front of Oliewenhuis Art Museum. This fossilised or petrified tree lived about 260 million years ago during the Middle to Late Permian Period.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein, and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00 and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00. Entrance is free and secure parking is available to visitors and for buses. A ramp provides access for wheelchairs at the main entrance, while a lift provides access to the Permanent Collection display areas on the first floor.


Stay up to date by following Oliewenhuis Art Museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all upcoming exhibitions and events.

For more information please contact Oliewenhuis Art Museum at 051 011 0525 (ext 200) or oliewen@nasmus.co.za.

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